Optometry and Coffee

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO March 23, 2012

What in the world has happened to a cup of coffee? It is no longer just coffee; it is a “venti three-shot, soy, one-pump vanilla latte with light whip and no foam!” And what is up with blue jeans? Now, they are “distressed, stonewashed, multi-color, relaxed fit and meant to be worn just south of the hambone.” Yikes!!

You might ask, what does this have to do with optometry? I believe that optometry still suffers from an identity crisis and the case could be made that coffee and blue jeans have done a better job of defining themselves than we have.

We are not “just eye doctors.”  We are doctors who specialize in the eye and ocular manifestations of other disease. We are way more than a “cup of coffee,” but we should not assume that everyone knows or acknowledges our breadth of services.

We all know that our practice days are characterized by patients with diabetes, hypertension, headaches, allergies, learning problems, and so much more. Clearly, we are not “just eye doctors.” So, who needs to know and be reminded? Well, let’s start with our medical colleagues, lawmakers, benefit managers, and medical directors.

We need to define ourselves and not allow others to do it for us. Optometry has achieved by taking nothing for granted. So, in this age of health care reform, where healthcare delivery is being redefined, we need to tell our story. We need to refocus our efforts on the education of decision makers who may well determine our role in the future.

Let’s not allow optometry to be referred to as a bunch of eye doctors. We are not just eye doctors any more than a cup of coffee is just a cup of coffee. We are grande caramel macchiato, nonfat, extra hot, and double cupped. And the world needs to know!

As I see it, optometry needs to resharpen its efforts to educate decision makers about our capabilities and our vital role in health care for the benefit of our patients and our practices. So, let’s spice it up a little and sprinkle on a little nutmeg.

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